Demand Issues for UK 'Superfast' Broadband?

By Gary Kim October 24, 2013

As important as next generation network availability is, consumer demand is equally important, the latest study of U.K. Internet access shows.

For example, about 8 percent of all broadband connections in the United Kingdom currently operate at less than 2Mbps. One would be tempted to guess that those are areas with long copper access loops, in areas of low population density.

Ofcom, the U.K. communications regulator, reports that 66 percent of such connections are in areas where access at 30Mbps or higher already is possible. Those consumers can buy 30Mbps or faster service, but choose not to do so.

The key point is that making next generation networks available is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for widespread use of faster Internet connections.

As of June 2013, 22 percent of purchased broadband connections in the U.K. market operated at 30Mbps or higher speeds, compared to 10 percent in 2012.

On fixed networks, in June 2013 the average household was using 30GB of data, up from 23GB in 2012, Ofcom says.

(click to enlarge)

The Commission also has a target that at least 50 percent of broadband connections are 100Mbps or more by 2020.

But networks supplying access at speeds up to 30 Mbps now are available to 73 percent of U.K. premises, up from 65 percent in 2012. BT’s fiber to cabinet network in June 2013 passed 57 percent of premises.

Virgin Media’s cable network, capable of speeds of at least 30 Mbps, passes 48 percent of premises.

Between them, BT and Virgin Media account for over 98 percent of all such homes passed.

At least for the moment, though, one might argue that customers able to buy both cable and telco services will have options for higher speeds, as cable networks tend to offer higher speeds than fiber to cabinet or fiber to neighborhood networks, at the moment.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Contributing Editor

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